New York prosecutor requests up to almost 11 years in prison for the Martinelli Linares brothers

The New York prosecutor’s office requests a sentence of 108 months (9 years) to 135 months (11 years and 3 months) for Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, both confessed to having conspired to launder $28 million in bribes delivered by the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, “for the benefit of a close family member and high-ranking Panamanian government official,” between August 2009 and September 2015.

This is stated in the notes that the New York Eastern District Attorney’s Office sent to Judge Raymond J. Dearie, who on May 20 must sentence the two sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal (2009-2014). One 17-page note is dedicated to Ricardo Alberto and the other, 19, to Luis Enrique, although the content of both is similar, given that they are accused of the same acts and the conditions of both are the same. Some sentences have been crossed out.

According to a publication in the newspaper La Prensa, the prosecution notes in its brief that the Parole Department recommended a higher sentence of 180 months (15 years) in prison, as well as a payment of $250,000, given that no grounds that could have “mitigated” the conviction.

In its recommendation to the judge, the prosecution took into account three factors: the seriousness of the charges; the little collaboration of the accused and the escape that both carried out in June 2020, which was considered “an attempt to evade their responsibilities for the crimes committed.”

In this way, the prosecution strongly opposes the claim of Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique’s lawyers, who a week ago requested their release from Judge Dearie, considering that the 23 months that their clients have been preventively detained (first in Guatemala and now in Brooklyn) is the prison sentence that would correspond to them for having pleaded guilty to the crime of conspiracy to launder money, using the American banking system.

The prosecution points out that although the defendants allege that the 23 months of preventive detention are sufficient punishment, because – according to their defense lawyers – they played a “simple” role as intermediaries in receiving the money from Odebrecht, their participation was “essential for the commission of this crime and maintained criminal, systematic and strategic behavior for nearly six years.”

Likewise, they used $9.5 million to invest in a telephone service company, and other amounts (not specified) to acquire bonds and shares.

Although the charge against them is for conspiring to launder $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht, through the US financial system, the prosecutor’s note mentions that the Brazilian company disbursed another $30 million, deposited in bank accounts in euros in the name of ghost companies managed by the two sons of the former president. That amount is not part of the indictment in the United States. The money was paid by the Department of Structured Operations, which was the office that managed the bribes of the construction company. In exchange, Odebrecht received public infrastructure contracts, awarded “with millions of dollars of premium”, among which the Panama Metro is specifically mentioned.

“It is clear that the co-defendants and the high-ranking official of the Panamanian government benefited from this ideal scheme, at the expense of the Panamanian people,” the prosecution notes in its brief.

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